There is a secret language used by the women who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy or infant loss. It is a code of acronyms and terminology whose use binds you as kin to other women, making you sacred sisters of grief. BFN (big fat negative pregnancy test), BD (baby dance aka sex), DPO (days past ovulation), MC (miscarriage)—and the one that in three little letters summed up all the pain in my heart—MMC (missed miscarriage).
In the days following my MMC, I searched online for answers, peering into the yawning cavern of other women’s experiences and found time and time again one term that summed up all of our hopes for the future…Rainbow Baby. Over and over again women were hoping for their ‘Rainbow’ (a baby born after a pregnancy or infant loss). At first, I didn’t connect at all. I just wanted my baby back…not another baby. Not another pregnancy but that pregnancy, flourishing and growing inside of me until it became a healthy infant placed plump and squalling in my arms. The pregnancy we lost had felt like a rainbow—unplanned and following a dark storm of turmoil in our personal lives. In my cloud of grief, I could not see hope. Or reason. Or purpose.
Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team talk about the raw reality of miscarriage.
Yet, a week after I lost our first pregnancy, the most serendipitous of miracles arrived. We adopted two labradoodle puppies—Summer and Scout. We had booked in with a breeder months earlier, planning—as many couples do—to trial-run raising a dog before babies. When we found out that we were unexpectedly pregnant, we considered cancelling our puppy plans. Yet every time the topic arose, I would tell my husband that I felt the dogs and the baby were connected and we would decide to forge ahead. So when, a week after our miscarriage, I sat in the breeders office with an empty belly and a hollow heart, it seemed like fate when my arms were filled by the warm fuzz of a fluffy new-born creature.
In the weeks after bringing our girls home, my husband and I found deep comfort in the routines of puppy raising. We snuggled them when they were scared. We tended to their needs in the middle of the night. We were patient when they made training mistakes and we bought every accessory under the sun. They could not possibly fill the hole that the baby had left but they filled a need that every grieving parent has—the need to give your love to something that relies on you. Sloppy kisses and puppy breath pulled me inch by inch out of the thick tar of grief and into what I came to see as ‘the rainbow’. The slow return of hope after loss.
Some women never get their ‘Rainbow Baby’. They spend their lives chasing a phantom that tragically never materialises into their waiting arms. But the desire for a rainbow after loss represents so much more than the result of a successful fertility journey. For some women, their rainbow is that child. For others, it’s fulfilling a travel dream or pursuing their career. However, it turns up, wanting and dreaming about your rainbow is the return of human hope and a sign that you are stepping through your journey, moving through grief and beginning your life post-tragedy. And that is something to be welcomed.
My husband and I still ache to be a family. But when I open the door after a long day of work and those two flopsy, mopsy heads are there to greet me, I forget for a moment all we’ve lost and consider all we’ve gained. I’m not still waiting for my rainbow. It’s here every time I see a wagging tail, every time my husband strokes my hair or my family dries my tears. One day we hope to raise a child, but in the meantime, life is so full. The rainbow is the love you receive. The rainbow is the love you give.
When she isn't defending her shoes from teething puppies, Annie works as a finance Leader in Brisbane, QLD. She believes a good idea can change the world and her life's goal is to bamboozle her husband with a terrifying change of direction daily. She is passionate about using her voice to empower young females as they navigate the complex worlds of career and motherhood. You can currently find her (and her adorable puppies) on Instagram @the.doodlebug.sisters